Krista Wager, who will grad­uate on Friday with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in chem­istry, has authored five research papers, including two review arti­cles, over the last four years at Northeastern.

I call it the dive-​​in approach,” she said of writing a review article. “You have to com­pletely immerse your­self in the lit­er­a­ture.” The result is a com­pre­hen­sive and author­i­ta­tive topic sum­mary that sci­en­tists across the field can use to fur­ther their own investigations.

As a freshman, Wager was recruited into the lab of Chem­istry and Chem­ical Biology Chair Graham Jones, who put her to work along­side grad­uate stu­dents to develop a series of novel mol­e­cules with poten­tial appli­ca­tions in cancer therapeutics.

These com­pounds acquire their ability to kill cells upon irra­di­a­tion with UV light,” she said, explaining how the mol­e­cules can be used to selec­tively kill cancer cells but not their healthy neighbors.

After this first research expe­ri­ence, for which she was awarded a Merck Under­grad­uate Research Schol­ar­ship, Wager decided to fur­ther explore the bio­log­ical appli­ca­tions of the com­pounds she was synthesizing.

During her third semester, Wager read nearly every article about a nuclear imaging tech­nique called single photo emis­sion com­puted tomog­raphy. The tech­nique, she said, relies on radi­a­tion to pro­vide images that track metab­o­lism and biodis­tri­b­u­tion of inves­ti­ga­tional drugs at tissue, cel­lular and sub­cel­lular levels.

This work led to her first review article, which she wrote entirely on her own; it was pub­lished in the journal Cur­rent Radio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals in 2010.

On co-​​op, Wager con­ducted drug-​​discovery research that has the poten­tial to make a global impact. At Mil­len­nium Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals in Cam­bridge, Mass., she per­formed hun­dreds of chem­ical reac­tions in an effort to iden­tify new cancer drugs. At Merck Research Lab­o­ra­to­ries in Boston, she devel­oped a more effec­tive pro­tocol for syn­the­sizing a class of com­pounds typ­i­cally used by med­i­c­inal chemists.

Jones praised Wager for both her research and lab work.

Her appetite for lab­o­ra­tory work was evi­dent,” he said, noting that he and Wager were recently asked to co-​​author a book that will explore organic chem­istry as it applies to cancer research and drug dis­covery. “It has been a plea­sure watching her grow into an inde­pen­dent research sci­en­tist over the years.”

Her research,” he added, “exem­pli­fies the essence of North­eastern — prac­tical appli­ca­tions of use-​​inspired research.”

Wager’s fifth and final paper at North­eastern, her second review, focuses on bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals — med­ical drugs that are syn­the­sized in living cells and present unique reg­u­la­tory and man­u­fac­turing challenges.

After grad­u­a­tion, she will spend a year con­tin­uing her research with Merck before enrolling in med­ical school next fall.